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Reverse Freedom Rides the original political power play

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GBH
(L) Lela Mae Williams, 36, of Huttig, Ark., and seven of the nine children who arrived with her in Hyannis, Mass. Children from left to right: Eddie, Joyce, James, Shirley, Darren, Mickey and Bobby. (R) Two unidentified women, residents of Hyannis, Mass., help some of Williams’ children off the bus. Darren is shown in front.

The migrants who were flown without their permission to Martha's Vineyard this week are not the first people to be transported out of state as part of a political power play.

Black families were bussed to places like Hyannis in the 1960s because politicians then thought it would disrupt communities here.

State Senator Julian Cyr says Cape Codders responded to the new arrivals much like they have in recent days: with compassion.

"They were actually welcomed and helped find housing — became part of our community on Cape Cod, right? So, that was a political stunt that backfired then, and we're hoping the same thing happens now."

Cyr condemned the actions of Republican governors, like Florida's Ron DeSantis, for using human beings as political pawns to criticize federal immigration policy, calling the actions quote "racist."

Our sister station, GBH has more on the so-called "Reverse Freedom Rides" of the 1960s, in an award-winning series here.

Kathryn Eident is an award-winning journalist and hosts WCAI's Morning Edition. She began producing stories for WCAI in 2008 as a Boston University graduate student reporting from the Statehouse. Since then, Kathryn’s work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times, Studio 360, Scientific American, and Cape and Plymouth Business Magazine.